Overdose Awareness Day 2023 is Thursday, Aug. 31. This is a global overdose awareness movement aimed at increasing awareness of overdosing and the many lives it continues to destroy. International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) began in Australia to spread the word throughout communities about the risk of overdose and has since spread worldwide. IOAD events are scheduled throughout New Hampshire, New England, and the United States.
This day has become increasingly more relevant due to the growing opioid epidemic, which results in an overwhelming number of critical injuries and fatalities all over the world. In addition to bringing awareness to the issue of overdose, the day also addresses the grief felt by friends and family members of victims of the epidemic.
A National Emergency
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020 and has quintupled since 1999. Nearly 75% of the 91,799 drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid. From 2019 to 2020, there were significant changes in opioid-involved death rates. Opioid-involved death rates increased by 38%.
- Prescription opioid-involved death rates increased by 17%.
- Heroin-involved death rates decreased by 7%.
- Synthetic opioid-involved death rates (excluding methadone) increased by 56%1.
New Hampshire Opioid Epidemic
In 2021, New Hampshire had a drug overdose death rate of 32.3 (per 100,000) residents.
Legal and Illegal Opioids
Opioids refer to a specific class of drugs, typically used for relieving symptoms of pain. Though frequently prescribed by doctors for a variety of pain levels, the risks and side effects can be quite severe. You may have heard of some of the more commonly prescribed types of opioids, which include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone.
Heroin is illegal yet its use continues to increase throughout the country among both men and women in a variety of age groups and at every income level. Though Fentanyl is available legally, via prescription for severe pain, it can also be obtained illegally and is 50 times stronger than pure heroin.
Fighting the Epidemic
Because of the epidemic, prescribing opioids is more closely monitored and lawmakers are doing what they can to decrease the production of illegal opioids. In addition, society is slowly beginning to learn more about drug use and addiction, and how to address it as a disorder rather than a bad habit or evidence of poor character.
IOAD aims to spread this message as far as possible, to raise awareness and to help create more effective treatment options for those affected. Supporters are encouraged to wear purple or silver clothing or ribbons on this day, as silver is the international color for awareness of overdose and its effects. Purple is the international color for opiate addiction awareness.
Here are a few links to help educate you about overdose, and to help you spread awareness to others in your community: